There is a genre of music in Japan where people sing about how awful they feel. It’s sort of like Japanese blues. Maybe it is called enka? My friend Chizuko told me it is only old people that like this kind of music. I like it a lot too.
Here’s a whole bunch of interesting facts about enka according to wikipedia:
The term enka was first used to refer to political texts set to music which were sung and distributed by opposition activists belonging to the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement during the Meiji period (1868–1912) as a means of bypassing government curbs on speeches of political dissent – and in this sense the word is derived from “enzetsu no uta” (演説の歌?), meaning “speech song.”
Enka suggests a traditional, idealized, or romanticized aspect of Japanese culture and attitudes. Enka singers, predominantly women, usually perform in a kimono or in evening dress. Male enka performers tend to wear formal dress, or in some performances, traditional Japanese attire.
Modern enka’s mainstream scale is called “Yonanuki Tan-Onkai” (ヨナ抜き短音階?) or “Minor Scale without Four and Seven (Re and Sol),” and is a modified version of “Yonanuki Chō-Onkai” (ヨナ抜き長音階?) or “Major Scale without Four and Seven (Fa and Ti),” which came from an older Japanese scale, the “Ryo Scale” (呂音階, Ryo Onkai).
Enka lyrics are usually written similarly around the themes of love and loss, loneliness, enduring hardships, and persevering in the face of difficulties, even suicide or death. Although enka is a genre of kayōkyoku, it is considered to be more expressive and emotional, though there is no clear consensus on the matter.
Archetypal enka singers employ a style of melisma—where a single syllable of text is sung while moving between several different notes in succession—known as kobushi. Kobushi occurs when the pitch of the singer’s voice fluctuates irregularly within one scale degree
To read the lengthy in-depth wikipedia entry go here: Enka
I sent scans of this to Koji Seito, hopefully he can help.
He helped! The name of the singer is Mina Aoe and the album is called Sasurai no Uta (Sing Shinpei Nakayama’s songs). Correct song titles now up. He confirmed that Mina Aoe was popular with lots of “blues” songs giving her the nickname Queen of the Blues. Koji sent along this youtube link which is apparently her biggest hit:
Sounds okay but could live without the doobie doos.
Price: $1 or gift from David
Location: far north on Rue Bordeaux
Sad Song Number One: Sasurai no Uta (Drifter’s Song)
Sad Song Number Two: Sendou Kouta